Teacher unions want consultation over proposal to reduce class social distancing

Basic Education Minister Angie Motshekga wants Cabinet to consider revising the current stipulated requirement, down to just half a meter.

FILE: Grade 7 pupils at a Western Cape primary school on 1 June 2020 sit in class after schools reopened following a national coronavirus lockdown, which started on 27 March 2020. Picture: @WCEDnews/Twitter.

JOHANNESBURG - Teacher unions are calling for genuine consultation over the proposed reduction of one metre distancing at schools, insisting the proposal must be backed by scientific evidence that it would not increase coronavirus infections among pupils.

Basic Education Minister Angie Motshekga wants Cabinet to consider revising the current stipulated requirement, down to just half a meter.

The five education unions, including Naptosa, Sadtu and Natu said that they were not consulted about the proposal.

READ MORE: Motshekga to ask Cabinet to ease social distancing requirement in class to 0.5m

The teacher unions said that they had warned the departments that the one-metre physical distancing in class would not be possible when the traditional timetable was followed. The unions, however, said that they were never involved in talks of a proposed reduction.

Naptosa’s Basil Manuel said that no scientific evidence thus far had been provided to unions in connection with the proposed half a meter move.

“We don't want these important decisions made based maybe on political expediency and not on the science," Manuel said.

Teacher unions said that while they were in favour of pupils returning to daily classes, it could not be at the expense of compliance with the required health and safety protocols.

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